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India-UK Defence Talks

Aero-engines, electric propulsion, missiles, power-packs, and maritime systems were identified as some of the focus areas of joint work

May 27, 2024 By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd) Photo(s): By PIB, X / MEAIndia
The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army

 

India-UK Defence Industry CEOs Roundtable, co-chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and UK Defence Minister Grant Shapps, in London on January 10, 2024.

On January 10, 2024, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh co-chaired the India-UK Defence Industry CEOs Roundtable in London with his British counterpart Grant Shapps in the Trinity House, London. The roundtable was attended by a large number of CEOs from the UK defence industry, UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials, UK India Business Council and CII India representatives. Major UK companies represented included BAE Systems, GE Vernova, James Fisher Defence, Leonardo S.p.A., Martin Baker Aircraft Company Ltd, SAAB UK, Thales UK, Ultra-Maritime Rolls-Royce, ADS Group, and MBDA UK. UK Minister of State for Defence Procurement, James Cartlidge was also present.

Aim of the roundtable was strengthening the India-UK defence industrial relationship. Welcoming the investment and technology collaboration from UK, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, "India envisions an enriching partnership with UK to co-operate, co-create and co-innovate." He also said: India-UK share a symbiotic relationship; India is ready with skilled human resource base, a robust pro-FDI and pro-business ecosystem, and a huge domestic market. The country is surging ahead to becoming a developed economy by 2047 and there is a clear roadmap to chart this course.

Grant Shapps said bilateral ties transcend the normal buyer-seller relationship and is fundamentally a strategic partnership. British industry leaders outlined their current and future plans for India. Aero-engines, electric propulsion, missiles, power-packs, and maritime systems were identified as some of the focus areas of joint work. A day earlier both defence ministers held a bilateral meeting, which was followed by signing bilateral agreements on cadet exchange and DRDO-Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) on defence collaboration.

India envisions an enriching partnership with UK to co-operate, co-create and co-innovate

Earlier, the inaugural India-UK 2+2 Foreign and Defence Dialogue was held in New Delhi on October 16, 2023, co-chaired from the Indian side by Piyush Srivastava, Joint Secretary Europe West, MEA and Vishwesh Negi, Joint Secretary, International Cooperation, (MoD) while UK was represented by Ben Mellor, India Director, Indian Ocean Directorate, FCDO and Lt General Rob Magowan, Deputy Chief of Defence Staff, Finance and Military Capability, MoD. They reviewed progress made in areas of India-UK Roadmap 2030 including political exchanges, economic cooperation, defence and security, people to people ties, regional and multilateral cooperation. They also discussed further collaboration, particularly in areas of trade and investment, defence, critical and emerging technologies, civil aviation, health, energy, culture and strengthening peoples connect.

DEFENCE MINISTER RAJNATH SINGH MEETS WITH UK PRIME MINISTER, RISHI SUNAK IN LONDON ON JANUARY 10, 2024.

On May 24, 2024, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said India has strongly presented its case relating to the extradition of fugitive economic offenders that have fled the country, adding that it will hamper UK's reputation and the country will end up being seen as a haven for tax evaders and tax defaulters. In an interview to media, Jaishankar said, "That is a question which mostly we need to ask the UK because that's where the high profile people have gone. And we have presented our case strongly. As you can see, multiple rounds of legal proceedings have gone in our favour".

The above shows UK's forked tongue policy, despite presently having an Indian-origin Prime Minister. Despite India having a formal extradition with the UK, economic offenders from India like Vijay Mallya (swindled ₹7,505 crore), Lalit Modi (swindled ₹1,700 crore), Nirav Modi (swindled ₹6,498 crore), Mehul Choksi and the like are having a ball in UK. According to another report Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi together defrauded the Punjab National Bank (PNB) of more than ₹14,000 crore - a scam unearthed on January 25, 2018 and reported by PNB to RBI on January 29, 2018.

India is ready with skilled human resource base, a robust pro-FDI and pro-business ecosystem, and a huge domestic market

There is another facet of Britain, in that, being a protégé of the US, it has collaborated since 1945 with America trying to overthrow more than 50 governments (many of them democratically elected), grossly interfered in elections in 30 countries, bombed civilian population of 30 countries, used chemical and biological weapons and attempted to assassinate foreign leaders, as stated by William Blum, US historian (who worked in US State Department) in 2015.

INAUGURAL INDIA-UK 2+2 FOREIGN AND DEFENCE DIALOGUE HELD IN NEW DELHI ON OCTOBER 16, 2023 WITH BOTH SIDES REVIEWING PROGRESS MADE IN DIVERSE AREAS OF INDIA-UK ROADMAP 2030 AND DISCUSSING POSSIBILITIES OF FUTURE COLLABORATION.

In addition, the UK-Pakistan defence cooperation is important to the UK geopolitically (over India?), which also has strategic dimensions as covered in these columns earlier. The UK has been airlifting artillery/mortar ammunition from Pakistan and supplying it to Ukraine. Both the US and UK nurture Pakistan to balance India, especially with Pakistan supplying terrorists as 'proxy boots' to the West. The British High Commission in Islamabad plays a crucial role in UK-Pakistan relations, surpassing even the American mission in significance. One can hardly discount UK cooking mischief in concert with Pakistan against India with or without American backing.

Today, Britain is in its worst financial situation in 70 years according to the UK's Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), the next British government will face challenges not seen since the 1950s. "Money is tight. Government services are struggling, taxes are at historically high levels, and both parties are constrained by their concrete promises to reduce the debt," according to the IFS Director. He said policymakers have three paths out of the crisis: painful spending cuts, raising taxes to an 80-year high or significantly increasing debt. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has called for elections on July 4, 2024, which his predecessor Boris Johnson has termed 'harakiri'. But despite the economic crisis, the UK continues to go out of its way to fuel the war in Ukraine.

Today, the West, the US and the UK included, need India more than the vice versa because of the Indian market and rising China

A recent news is that the G7 have decided to use frozen Russian funds to be diverted to Ukraine to compensate for the Russian aggression which is a ridiculously arbitrary decision. But if this is to become an accepted global trend, then India should demand return of the $47 trillion looted by Britain during the British rule, as well as compensation for atrocities like the Calcutta Black Hole and Jalianwala Bagh Massacre.

Finally, the economic situation in the West will likely keep falling with no indication of let up in warmongering. Today, the West, the US and the UK included, need India more than the vice versa because of the Indian market and rising China. To this end, talks with UK are fine but we must be more assertive and demanding.